Devon coast to coast day 3: Wednesday 10th July.
Bridestowe to Down Thomas.
Total distance: 56.58km
Average speed: 17.1km/h
Maximum speed: 66.3km/h
Total cycling time: 03:18:28
I allowed myself an even later start than day two, and got up at around 10:00. The Dutch cyclist had left early, and I cooked a breakfast of three boiled eggs and a tin of beans before showering and packing away all my gear. It was a nice feeling to set off knowing that I only had around 65-70km to cycle, and was under no pressure at all to rush. As well as being the shortest of the three days in terms of distance, day three was also going to be the least hilly, as I’d got the worst of the climbs out of the way the day before.
There was some hard climbing out of Bridestowe towards Mary Tavy, but then it was downhill almost all the way the Tavistock, where I picked up Drake’s Trail again. The trail climbed steadily all the way through to Yelverton, where I started an uninterrupted, 15km descent all the way along the trail to Plymouth. At the end of Drake’s trail, all that was left was a final 6km back to Down Thomas, which included one final kick in the teeth in the form of a painfully steep hill along Goosewell Road.
Finally, at 15:45, I finished the ride, having completed a punishing 350km over three days. I parked the bike up, and jumped straight into the paddling pool to cool off. It had been an amazing ride, through some beautiful countryside, but I found it far more challenging than my ride from London to Paris. Had it not been for the heat, I’m sure it would have been easier, but whatever the weather the sheer number of hills was a killer, especially on a loaded touring bike.
Some advice to anyone looking to do this ride would be to allow four days, which in retrospect would have been a far more comfortable amount of time to take, and would have made it more enjoyable and less exhausting. Also, the route isn’t really suitable for road bikes, as there are some poor surfaces, which at best would make for a very uncomfortable ride, and most likely result in some broken wheels.
Beware though, as the traffic free trails used on this route follow disused railway lines, so these sections climb more gradually than the nearby roads do. If you were to try to plot a route for a road bike, using country lanes, it would almost certainly involve significantly more climbing… You’ve been warned.
After I got back and checked the bike over, I realised that the rear tyre had reached the end of its life, and it was very fortunate it hadn’t disintegrated during the ride. The huge amount of braking on steep downhill section and the rough surfaces had shredded the outer layer of rubber, and it just peeled away when I pulled it.